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Fishing Report for Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island & Port Canaveral

Capt. Ron Presley
December 3, 2005
Cocoa Beach - Saltwater Fishing Report

My Boga Grip Bottoms Out at 30!

Christmas Fishing Forecast (My Boga Grip Bottoms Out at 30 Pounds)

Finally, it seems like the weather is going to settle down and give us some decent fishing weather. After canceling three trips last week due to the rain and wind, it is certainly a welcome relief. With morning low temperatures in the 40’s, we can expect the water temperature to drop as well. The good news of all that is that you really do not have to get on the water as early. In fact, with the fishing turning to cold weather patterns you many even improve you catching by waiting until the sun has an opportunity to warm the water a few degrees.

With the onset of the winter temperatures the fish seek comfort in deeper water and that means you need to seek the fish in deeper water. We can expect the water temperatures during the Christmas fishing season to be in the 60”s. The best tip for the winter fishing pattern is slow down your retrieve and then slow it down a little more. I use lots of CAL plastics fished slowly along the bottom. I also have good success with the DOA shrimp.

One fish I target more often in the winter is the black drum. They tend to congregate around area bridges during this time of year. These fish can be caught on blue crabs (I usually cut them in half) and large live shrimp. If you can scrape some barnacles from the bridge pilings this will sometimes improve your chances. I like to use a sliding sinker rig with about 20 inches of 40-pound leader material below the weight and a 5/0 circle hook to seal the deal. When I target these fish I beef up to at least a 20-pound rig so I can pull the hefty creatures away from the barnacle encrusted pilings. Depending on the size of the fish, you may lose more to cut offs than you bring to the boat.

Not all the fishing is in deeper water because as temperatures moderate, as during a particularly warm period of days, the fish will show up on the flats earlier in the morning. Even on the cooler days, the fish will show up on the flats, just later in the day after the sun has had an opportunity to warm the water a few degrees. Trout and redfish alike will be found sunning themselves in sandy potholes up on the flats.

This Weeks Fishing

The number of fish caught this week was not great, but the size of one of them was!

I fished this week with Bill and Carol from Utah (originally from Scotland) and we had a nice day on the water. It was an afternoon trip so the cool weather was not a significant problem for the anglers. The water temps may have affected the fish though because they were not very cooperative. By the end of the day, we had boated 1 mangrove snapper, about 15 inches, two trout at about 17 inches each and a few pinfish. Not a significant day. Nevertheless, with anglers like Bill and Carol it was still a great day with lots of wildlife and other interesting sights on the river.

Could it get any worse? The next day we only got one fish to the boat. BUT, a fish it was! Today it was Scott and Brian from Chicagoland where the temperature was 26 and it was snowing when they boarded their plane. They did not complain about the 40-degree temperatures we were having. After about an hour of fishing we had jumped one ladyfish and boated nothing.

It was very windy, right out of the north, and I queried the pair if they would like to try some Black Drum fishing. I warned them that we would be exposed to the cool wind and rough waters of the river with the wind blowing from the North. I told them it would be “brutal” They were game and we headed for a bridge.

We rocked and rolled on two passes under the bridge, scraping barnacles off of the bridge pilings to hopefully attract some hungry black drum. We beefed up to 20 pound rods rigged as I described above. Pinned a jumbo shrimp on a 5/0 circle hook and waited for some action as we bobbed up and down in the waves. Scott hooked up first and I went for the motor to pull us away from the pilings. Fight lasted 30 seconds before the big guy cut us off.

As I was re-rigging Scotts pole, Brian yells, “Whoa!” I turn to see his pole bent double. I start the engine and motored out about 20 feet to help him pull the fish clear. This time we got him out only to see him break off after about 3 minutes of hard tugging. It can only go down to equipment failure because Brian had done everything right. Now both rigs are out of commission.

We re-rigged and set up again. Before the day was over, we hooked up six times, got two away from the pilings and landed only one. Scott landed his 4th hook-up with some great fish handling techniques. He casted only to the edge of the pilings instead of deep under the bridge and when he hooked up he went immediately to the bow of the boat to gain a quick 20 feet on the hard pulling drum. This was enough for me to get the engine started again and pull away from the bridge and the barnacle encrusted pilings.

After a few minutes we managed to get the over-sized fish into what looked like a tiny dip net and we brought it aboard. A few quick high-fives and a few photos later we put this magnificent fish over the side where I revived him by a back and forth motion to force water and needed oxygen through his gills. It wasn’t long until he surged forward from my hands, presumably returning to the safety of the structure of the bridge. Scott was smiling and I suspect he is still smiling.

Brian had hooked up twice and got one away from the bridge only to lose it to a break off. Scott hooked up 4 times and got one to the boat. In the end the winds subsided a little and no one complained about the “brutal” conditions. My Boga Grip Bottoms Out at 30 Pounds, I am guessing the fish weighed about 40 pounds.

Go to my website and check out the current fishing report to see a picture of this giant Black Drum.

That’s what its all about.

Good Fishin’

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Capt. Ron Presley is an outdoor writer and fishing guide. He serves on the board of directors of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, is Secretary Treasurer of the Florida Guides Association and editor of their newsletter. Capt. Ron operates Inshore Fishing Adventures in the Cocoa Beach area.

Contact Info:

Inshore Fishing Adventures
516 S. Plumosa St., #19
Merritt Island, FL 32952
Phone: 321-454-7285
Alt. Phone: 321-749-1787
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